Are Your Relationships Worth Slowing Down For?
by Sarah Mackenzie
I whirled around the house, tossed the grocery list into my purse, threw a pile of wet clothes into the dryer, and kicked a stray toy under the couch. We had dinner guests coming in an hour, and I hadn’t even begun to think about what to serve.
I eyed my watch and stopped at the computer to click the browser closed. Those emails would have to wait.
“C’mon kids! Get in the van! We need to run to the store real fast!”
Two kids dashed out the door, but Allison continued to tuck her dolls into their makeshift beds on the living room floor. I sighed, grabbed her coat from the rack, and bent down to direct her arms into the sleeves, “Quick, honey! We only have a few minutes. Get your shoes on!”
Her brow furrowed, and she looked up at me with a scowl. She was all of five years old, and she was about to say words I would never forget.
“Mommy, slow down! You’re going too fast for my insides!”
It’s been nearly a decade since then, but I can still see little Allison’s face crystal clear in my mind. I can picture the frustration in her eyes, hear the irritation in her voice. And even now, 10 years later, when life speeds up, and I speed up with it, I hear her warning reminding me to be careful of other people’s insides.
It reminds me of what I read once in Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He wrote, “With people, if you want to save time, don’t be efficient. Slow is fast and fast is slow.”
But even now I forget that. I let the speed of life ramp up, and in the name of efficiency, I forget that the thing that matters most of all—relationships with my family—doesn’t work on the same clock as the rest of the world.
Slow is fast. Fast is slow.
By definition, to be efficient is to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. But relationships don’t flourish or grow that way. Relationships need time, spent lavishly. True connection needs time and space. Relationships—at least the most important ones—just aren’t efficient.
This can be a real struggle. We have so much on our plates—so many demands on our time and attention. We desperately want the interactions with our loved ones to be warm and meaningful.
We’ve probably all heard of folks at the end of their lives, looking back and wishing they had spent more time with the people they loved. Even at the end of the day, when I sneak into my children’s rooms to drop one more kiss on their cheeks as they sleep, I often wish I had stopped for a moment earlier in the day to stare into their eyes. To ask them about what they are thinking and dreaming about. I wish I had wasted a perfectly good five minutes listening to them ramble on about what they found under the rock in the backyard, who said what at the roller skating rink, or what was so funny in that comic book I saw them laughing at.
These things take time. These things cannot be done efficiently. There is simply no substitute for undivided attention within a meaningful relationship.
When we take the time to be present with them, when we remember that slow is fast, we send our loved ones a message:
“You are important to me.”
“What matters to you, matters to me.”
“You are enough, just as you are right now.”
And that’s a message I desperately want my loved ones to know today and every day. They are worth slowing down for. They are worth stopping the world for.
Slow is indeed fast when it comes to those we love the most.
Sarah Mackenzie is the author of The Read-Aloud Family: Make Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids, and hosts the immensely popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast. She lives in the Northwest with her husband, Andrew, and their six kids, where she loves to make sure they are well-stocked in the best books she can find. Connect with Sarah at readaloudrevival.com.
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